Chance Begets Order: Hierarchical Probabilistic Processes in the Natural Sciences

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Date

2012

Authors

Crawford, David Robert

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Rosenberg, Alexander
Brandon, Robert

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Abstract

At the end of the nineteenth century Charles Sanders Peirce wrote that "chance begets order" - indeterministic or `chancy' processes can underlie orderly and seemingly deterministic processes. Indeed, Peirce argues that indeterminism is the seed of all order in the natural world. The dissertation explores this theme in three parts. The first chapter reconstructs and elaborates Peirce's objections against necessitarianism, the position that all natural laws are perfectly orderly, deterministic. The second chapter examines and elaborates Ronald Aylmer Fisher's sophisticated analogy between gas models from statistical mechanics and his own population genetics models. The final chapter treats a contemporary indeterministic account of biological fitness and examines several points on which intuitions from deterministic theories misinterpret this quintessentially indeterministic position. The dissertation motivates an indeterministic theory of natural law and reinvigorates its implications for hierarchical models of the natural world.

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Citation

Crawford, David Robert (2012). Chance Begets Order: Hierarchical Probabilistic Processes in the Natural Sciences. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/6184.

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